Throughout my career I've always tried to be a renaissance geek. Like the great masters of old, I stubbornly refuse to specialise, preferring to remain plugged into as many different fields as I can humanly muster.
The story of the Lions Tigers and Bears can't be told without also telling my own story. So bear with me, and indulge me while I regale to you my life's story as succintly as I can.
So as we've established, my name is Gilles Vandenoostende. Born in Ghent, Belgium in the mid-80's. Generationally speaking, this places me somewhere in between Gen-X and Millennials, which translates to having a pretty traditional childhood where nobody had cellphones, but at the same time growing up around information technology that was evolving and maturing at the same rate we were. My dad bought his first PC in the late 80's and some of my earliest childhood memories involve staring at the glowing CRT monitor playing DOS videogames, like Commander Keen, Duke Nukem and Lemmings.
So when it was time for me to choose my higher education, I choose something that combined my two great interests: design and technology, which at the time in 2003 meant Multi-Media and Communications Technology. Here I learnt the basics of programming and webdesign, as well as some 3D modelling and graphic design tools. In my last year I had the chance to do my internship abroad and I lucked out with a really good placement at a university incubator in Liverpool, where I learnt about user-research and got a chance to design a few small games for the BBC.
After graduating in 2006 I was intending to take another two years to get my masters' degree, but after receiving a job-offer from BBDO to join their webdesign team I decided to start my career proper. This started the first chapter of my professional life working in the Belgian advertising industry. After a 5 year stint at BBDO where I was doing mostly Flash-based webstuff, I joined TBWA Group and their Two Men and a Horsehead design team, where I gained more experience in Graphic Design and UX.
Throughout my work I had to combine both design and programming to achieve the best results, and I continued to hone both these skillsets, always learning new techniques while refusing to specialise too much in either direction. I learned that a talent for efficient communication is indispensible for making informed and intelligent design decisions.
Later in 2013 I would join Duval Guillaume and Saatchi & Saatchi as Creative Technologist/(UX) Designer. However, by 2016 I had decided to find work a little closer to home, and lucked into a job-interview at Little Miss Robot, a digital product design firm in Ghent, and was hired to join their design team. Here I was more focused on user-oriented design, creating wireframes and prototypes for a variety of clients, organising workshops and focusgroups to collect design briefings, etc.
During my time at LMR I met Dave & Alexander, who had been working on an idea for a virtual reality game called Journey For Elysium (available now), but they needed someone who had the technical skills to help make it. Since I had been dabbling with VR myself (and knew how to use Unity 3D) I eagerly joined their team and along with Xavier (an intern from DAE).
We spent 3 months to make the first prototype (see the case for the full story, with which we were able to get production funding from the VAF (Flanders Film Fund). My childhood dreams of being a game designer came true and production started in 2018. Dave founded the Mantis studio and we hired our first team. The last two years I have been working full time at Mantis Games, doing mostly level design and scripting, as well as working on concepts for future games. Lots of blood, sweat and tears later, Journey finally shipped late 2019.
Without getting into too much detail, Mantis and I sadly had to part ways, and so that brings us here today in late 2020. Reflecting on my career and life up to this point, I decided that I owed it to myself to try and become master of my own destiny and go into business for myself, foregoing the comfort of a steady paycheck for the increased freedom and creative ownership that comes with running your own design company. Which brings us here.
So, still here after all that? Good. Maybe you'd like to work with me?